Fri Feb 22 3:22pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Oct. 7, 2018, file photo, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, in Cleveland. A person with knowledge of the trade tells The Associated Press, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, that the Denver Broncos have agreed to acquire Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in exchange for a fourth-round pick in this year's NFL draft. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither team announced the deal.(AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
In this March 16, 2018, file photo, Denver Broncos general manager John Elway, left, shakes hands with Case Keenum during a news conference to introduce him as the new starting quarterback of the Broncos at the team's headquarters, in Englewood, Colo. Count Keenum among those who were stunned by Elway's decision to replace him with Joe Flacco after just one season as the Broncos' starting quarterback. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) A lot of fans were stunned by Denver Broncos general manager John Elway's decision to replace quarterback Case Keenum with Joe Flacco.
Count Keenum among them.
Appearing on the Sports Spectrum Podcast this week with his wife, Kimberly, Keenum said he was caught off guard when he was informed the Broncos and Ravens had the framework in place for a trade that will end Keenum's stint as the Broncos starting QB after just one season.
Neither the Broncos nor the Ravens, or even Flacco, can formally acknowledge the trade until it becomes official when the new league year begins March 13.
Keenum is under no such gag order.
''Elway called me that morning and we had a great conversation, which he didn't have to do, and I appreciated that,'' Keenum said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast this week.
''I was definitely shocked, it was a surprise for us ... we're definitely disappointed, it's not something we wanted to happen. I know that everybody's doing their job and John feels like that was a chance for him to help the Broncos out.''
A year ago, Keenum was a hot commodity, second only to Kirk Cousins among available veteran quarterbacks. He was coming off a breakout season in Minnesota, where he went 11-3 and helped the Vikings reach the NFC championship game.
When the Vikings signed Cousins, Keenum inked a two-year, $36 million deal with Denver that included $25 million guaranteed. The couple bought a home in Denver and Keenum said he hoped to turn his short-term deal into a long-term situation.
He got off to a slow start last season, however, throwing interceptions in Denver's first eight games on his way to a career-high 15 interceptions, which tied for second-most in the NFL.
Preaching patience became a weekly mantra of his with Keenum expressing confidence he and his new teammates and coaches would eventually adjust to each other in time to make a late-season run.
By December the Broncos weren't rolling but staggering, bedeviled by an injury epidemic that had waylaid three O-line starters and the team's top two tight ends. On Dec. 5, Emmanuel Sanders, who rose to No. 1 receiving threat when Demaryius Thomas was traded to Houston, tore an Achilles at practice.
The Broncos lost their final four games, finishing 6-10 for their first back-to-back losing seasons since the Nixon Administration. That led Elway to fire Vance Joseph and replace him with Vic Fangio . Keenum wasn't among the players who attended Fangio's introductory news conference because he was on vacation out of the country.
As he cleaned out his locker after the final game, Keenum said, ''I learned a lot this year. I learned what it is to be a franchise quarterback.''
Elway clearly didn't see Keenum in that way.
So, he's moving on to another veteran in Flacco, 34, who will be Denver's fifth starting quarterback since Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl three years ago.
Keenum is slated to count $21 million against the salary cap next season, which is actually more than Flacco's $18.5 million salary cap hit.
That Broncos are hoping a trade partner emerges or that they can restructure Keenum's contract to a figure more befitting a backup. Otherwise, releasing him would cost them $7 million but save them $11 million.
Keenum seems to believe his time with the Broncos is over.
''My time with the Broncos has been really special,'' he said on the podcast. ''I have enjoyed every second of it. I have absolutely been so proud to wake up every day and to walk into that building to represent the Broncos as their quarterback. ... It was an honor.''
Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard still has a role with the Bears, but he could still be traded nonetheless, according to head coach Matt Nagy.
Fantasy Spin: Trade talk involving Howard has waned recently, but he's seemingly not as valuable to Chicago's offense as his counterpart Tarik Cohen. It's not that Howard has necessarily under performed. He's scored 25 total times and averaged over 1,312 yards in his first three seasons. He's a solid standard RB2 assuming he stays in Chicago.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (knee) is expected to be ready late in the preseason as he continues to recover from ligament damage, according to head coach Doug Marrone.
Fantasy Spin: Lee has the ability to be the most reliable wide receiver on the Jaguars when he's at full health. That receiving corps is somewhat of a crapshoot, but Lee owns a WR3 ceiling.
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff's potential contract extension isn't a top priority currently, according to head coach Sean McVay. 'Whether it happens this year, next year, those are things we haven't really gotten into in depth about yet,' McVay said.
Fantasy Spin: Goff had one of the worst Super Bowl performances in recent memory, but his regular season was stellar. Another season of over 4,600 yards and 30+ touchdowns should get him that extension. He's comfortably in QB1 territory heading into his fourth season.
Free-agent QB Sean Mannion (Rams) has a visit scheduled with the Minnesota Vikings later this week, according to a source.
Free-agent WR Damiere Byrd (Panthers) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday, March 26. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday. He spent the last four years with the Panthers and played in 17 games over the last three years while spending his rookie year on the practice squad. Byrd caught 12 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns with Carolina and also worked as a kickoff and punt returner. He's mainly receiver depth for Arizona and will likely make his biggest impact on special teams.
The Buffalo Bills plan to release running back Chris Ivory after signing veteran Frank Gore this offseason, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Releasing Ivory will save the team $2.15 million against the salary cap and will cost $750,000 in dead cap money. The veteran averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 115 attempts in 2018 and hasn't averaged more than 3.8 YPC since 2016. The 31-year-old won't have a robust market in free agency.
Free-agent TE Antonio Gates (Chargers) could still be re-signed by the Los Angeles Chargers, according to head coach Anthony Lynn.
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said the return of veteran tight end Antonio Gates is "absolutely" a possibility for the 2019 season. Gates has very little left and would likely be third on the tight end depth chart behind Hunter Henry and Virgil Green if he returned as a free agent. He had just 28 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns in a full season in 2018. Gates is no longer fantasy relevant if he returns for another season.
Buffalo Bills RB Chris Ivory is being released Tuesday, March 26, according to a source.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (shoulder) has encouraged head coach Ron Rivera by the progress he has made in his recovery from shoulder surgery in January. 'I look forward to seeing him soon,' Rivera said, 'but just very happy that things are trending in the right direction.' The Panthers are confident that Newton will be ready for training camp.
Fantasy Spin: It was an off year for Newton as he missed two games and finished outside of QB1 territory. Assuming he does make a full recovery from the shoulder issue then it would be a surprise not to see him back among No. 1 fantasy quarterbacks in 2019.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford was the target of an attempted trade by the Miami Dolphins during the 2018 offseason, according to multiple league sources.
Fantasy Spin: A year later, Ryan Tannehill is gone, Ryan Fitzpatrick is in but the Dolphins are still searching for their franchise QB. Expect Miami to strike in the first round of the draft.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that tight end Will Dissly (knee) has been working out and is doing well in his rehab, but it won't be until training camp that he is back on the field. Dissly played in four games (eight catches, 156 yards, two touchdowns) before tearing the patellar tendon in his knee. With Nick Vannett and Ed Dickson also options at the position in 2019, there's no guarantee Dissly will develop a fantasy relevant role for Seattle coming off this injury.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said that the team will give tight end Darren Waller "a chance of a lifetime" in 2019 now that Jared Cook moved on in free agency. Lee Smith is currently listed atop Oakland's tight end depth chart, so Waller will be given a chance. However, the Raiders are also expected to address the position in next month's draft. Waller has 18 receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns in his three NFL seasons and will be a very deep sleeper in fantasy if he's the team's top pass-catching tight end.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson isn't ruling out the return of running back Darren Sproles, who has yet to make a decision on whether he will retire. Sproles is ready to retire, but he's played in nine games the last two seasons and wants to go out on a good note. He ran the ball 29 times for 120 yards and a score while adding 15 receptions for 160 yards and two more touchdowns in his six regular season games in 2018. Even if Sproles returns, his fantasy upside is all but diminished at this point in his career.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that wide receiver Doug Baldwin will undergo sports hernia surgery on April 4. There is no real timetable for when Baldwin will be healthy heading into next season. The 30-year-old receiver dealt with multiple injuries in a disappointing 2018 season and is no lock to be ready for Week 1 at this point. He caught only 50 passes for 618 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games last year. It's safe to say his fantasy value is dropping quickly.
The Chicago Bears could explore trade offers for running back Jordan Howard this offseason, according to head coach Matt Nagy. Despite scoring nine touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, Howard saw a career-low 250 rushing attempts for 935 yards in his third season in Chicago and first under Nagy. The 2016 fifth-round pick isn't as good of a fit in Nagy's offense and has become more touchdown-dependent for fantasy owners with the Bears. A trade could boost his fantasy stock back up.
The Baltimore Ravens didn't address their wide receiver position in free agency, meaning Willie Snead and Chris Moore, who combined for two touchdowns last year, are currently at the top of the receiver depth chart. Jordan Lasley (inactive all year), Jaleel Scott (coming off Injured Reserve) and Quincy Adeboyejo (coming off IR) round out the group. General manager Eric DeCosta is preaching patience and also expects the team to address the position through the draft. It also speaks to the direction Baltimore is going now that Lamar Jackson is their franchise quarterback. Ravens receivers combined for an NFL-low 45 catches for 520 yards and three touchdowns after Jackson took over for Joe Flacco in Week 11. Mississippi's D.K. Metcalf, Ohio State's Parris Campbell, Iowa State's Hakeem Butler and Oklahoma's Marquise Brown have been linked to Baltimore at No. 22 in the first round.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta all but affirmed that veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith will remain with the team in 2019. "One of the greatest strengths of our team right now is our secondary. I think it would be foolish for us to make a strength a weakness for no reason," DeCosta said. Smith is entering his age-31 season and hasn't played more than 12 games since 2015, but he brings a veteran presence to Baltimore's secondary. The Ravens also added All-Pro safety Earl Thomas in free agency.
New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan is still letting teams know that the No. 3 overall pick in the draft is for sale. The Jets traded up to the third pick last year from No. 6 to take Sam Darnold. Several teams could be interested in moving up to No. 3 this year in order to take a quarterback. Because of the draft-day trade to land Darnold, the Jets don't have a current second-round pick.